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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  January 18, 2010 7:17pm-7:30pm EST

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and this is why we ended up in geneva, where iranian officials and u.s. officials, along with european officials, began this conversation of how to address the nuclear issue more concretely. >> so we make it to geneva and we open a dialogue about the nuclear program, which is of course the primary concern for the united states. and then it seems to falter for a number of reasons. it appears that progress is made but then when it goes back to iran, the deal that was worked out falls apart. was this planned on the part of the iranian government? or was this truly just some sort of miscommunication by those who were in geneva and said, yes, we can do this, and it gets back to tehran, it doesn't work. >> yeah, i don't think i would bury that proposal. it's still ongoing. the suggestion -- >> you think this is still open? >> still open. initially, iran actually accepted the u.n./u.s. proposal, which was enrichment would be taking place in russia, in france.
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then they backed away from that. but -- >> just to remind people, this is so that the nuclear material, in theory, would not be then able to be used in some sort of weapon. >> right. it would be enriched abroad and then given to iran in limited amounts for medical purposes. and iran originally accepted that. then when it went to tehran, there was obviously, behind closed doors, division. they rejected that. >> are we supposed to believe while this dialogue continues, that the nuclear program's moving ahead full-speed in iran? >> well, indications we have in the u.s. government, information they provide, is iran has not progressed on the program that rapidly. the hemming and hawing over this proposal, feet dragging, is more indication and more a reflection of the deep conflicts within iran, both between kind of people and the regime, but also within the regime, amongst the
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establishment. not only between the opposition groups and ahmadinejad and khomenei, but even amongst the conservative hardliners who see this as a moment where their differences, their debates, can be aired. regarding nuclear issues but also economic issues as well. >> if we talk about, say, we had not come to some sort of agreement, what are the positives that have come out of this? if not with iran, with other nations, have we managed to open a dialogue and come more eye to eye? >> well, i think u.s./russian relations have improved under obama. and this has given him a degree of leverage vis-a-viiran, that the bush administration didn't enjoy. china of course, is very hesitant and ambivalent about extending -- expanding sanctions and so forth. so the dynamics have changed. but there are real predicaments and limitations to what the u.s. can do in terms of military strikes, in terms of economic coercion they could use.
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so the obama administration, the u.s. government, faces real predicaments about how to engage iran in a nondiplomatic manner. what does the u.s. government do next? how does it impose what it says will be tougher economic sanctions if it can't get china to go along? >> well, i think it has to get out of these artificial deadlin. because initially they said the deadline ended december, now they're talking end of january. i think those deadlines are actually becoming a major obstacle. if one is trying to bring china on board, and also to get iran to come to some sort of compromise, clearly there has to be an open-ended negotiation. >> do you think iran is very much worried about a possible military strike, either from israel or the united states? >> i'm sure the iranian government has contingency plans, is concerned about this.
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but at the moment, and since the elections, there are so many other issues on their plate in terms of addressing the rather large and continuing protests in the streets. the divisions amongst the establishment. the problems of economic reform, so on and so forth. so they're facing a lot of issues all at the same time. >> i would add actually the die-hards in the administration in tehran would probably like air strikes. that would strengthen their position. >> would you say that it's wrong for americans to think that all iranians are opposed to the nuclear program? or those that are opposed to the government are opposed to the program? >> actually, the nuclear program becomes a football within internal politics. so for instance, initially when the government accepted the0íñ u.n./u.s. proposal about enrichment in russia and france actually criticized the government for doing that. but i would say deep down, they
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would want a settlement with united states over the nuclear issue. but anything the government does, they will oppose, basically because they are the opposition. >> we are out of time but so much we could talk about. my thanks to ervand abrahamian and arang keshavarizan, thank you both. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. tomorrow night in "obama: the world" we'll look at how america's first african-american president is dealing with the continent of africa. finally tonight we take you to the middle east where á conflict is routinely part of the narrative.8 as you're about to see, that's true even of the most inconsequential stories. case in point, what's going on these days in abu ghosh, an ancient, mostly arab christian village in israel, less than ten miles from jerusalem. there the raging debate's not about the israel/palestinian
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conflict or iran, but chickpeas. specifically, who invented hummus, and who can produce the biggest batch of it. our report is by ben knight of abc australia. >> reporter: it's not that spicy. it's not that salty. in fact, almost doesn't really have much flavor at all. so why would anyone get this excited about making more than  four tons of chickpea dip? anywhere else in the world, they probably wouldn't. here in the middle east, hummus is a big deal. >> the hummus is in a way our national food. i can't call it delicacy, but it's for sure we can donate it to israel cuisine, the middle east cuisine, and it's very tasteful for me. >> reporter: anyone you talk to in this part of the world can and will tell you where to get the best hummus.
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this batch probably isn't the best. but for now it's the most. it almost doubles the record for the world's largest plate of hummus, set in beirut two months ago. israel and lebanon were at war just four years ago. and they have a less than friendly rivalry over who invented hummus. >> translator: israel was not satisfied with occupying our land. it has tried to steal the culture and heritage of the lebanese identity. >> reporter: the truth is probably impossible to know. this at least got official approval. >> that's very good, very good. >> reporter: the word from lebanon is they're already preparing to try and beat this record. the word here in abu ghosh is they're already preparing to beat that record. so the hummus cycle continues. a pretty familiar story in t middle east. ben knight, abc news, abu ghosh that is "worldfocus" for monday night. remember to visit our website,
7:25 pm, tell us what you think about the release of the gunman who tried to kill the pope or whatever else is on your mind. i'm martin savidge. i'll be here all week. i'll look for you again tomorrow night. i'll look for you again tomorrow night. good evening. -- captions by vitac -- >> major support for "worldfocus" has been provided by -- rosalind p. walter. and the peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters.
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